CORNWALL BOWEL CANCER SUPPORT GROUP
Managed by Candy Coombe / Clare Ferris - Colorectal Nurse Specialists
This is an online support group covering Cornwall and a handful of members from various other places that may not have the support in their area. This is at the discretion of the administrators. You may ask why an online group and the answer is simple. Due to the geographic nature of Cornwall it has proved difficult to hold face to face meetings with numbers very small resulting in group meetings folding.
On the 17th May 2013 the group went live and on 22nd May we had our first member. Numbers soon increased and the group began to flourish. Members talk to each other online and many have made new friends within the group. Five years on we have 189 members and growing. This is a closed group via a Facebook page and is by invitation only.
As nurses working with our cancer patient we are able to offer an abundance of support in various ways however, I believe that it’s the patients themselves who are the experts when it comes to procedures and treatments. Patients can share their experiences with other members of the group. This has already proved invaluable. This doesn’t replace the advice we can give and I have stipulated that any new ideas / remedies must be discussed with us first. New members out of county are aware that treatments / procedures can vary from area to area therefore, medical advice should be sort from their own Nurse Specialists who know them best.
As the group we have now formed a committee to help share the workload when decisions need to be made. Our group has a Treasurer, Chairman and Secretary plus other members who have important roles to ensure the group functions well. All ideas are put to the committee and as the group administrator I have a say in all decisions before any are accepted.
We hold face to face meetings every three months, March, June, September and December at the Probus village hall. These get togethers are light hearted and fun. We arrange some form of entertainment or visiting speakers whose aim is to inform us on their various products that members may find useful in their day to day life. We have a raffle, tombola and refreshments, and a FREE pasty for all around mid-day. Members can chat and enjoy the day. They can bring family and friends along, after all they are also part of the journey. For those patients who are not members we arrange personal invites for them in the form of a paper invitation when we see them in clinic. We try to involve as many patients as possible.
The group helps to raise awareness by helping out on Health Promotion days and they have produced posters on the signs and symptoms of bowel cancer for their doctor’s surgeries. We have our own logo badge which has also been produced by the group.
I have developed group guidelines to protect our member’s privacy and confidentiality. These are available in the files section of the groups Facebook page. I periodically flag them up for new members to see.
"I know how incredibly supportive of each other people in Cornwall are as is shown from our motto ‘one and all’. When people are suffering such a horrible disease as cancer the support of friends and family is crucial for their wellbeing. I know that support groups such as yours are essential elements in the building up of those who have cancer.
As well as building up personally we do sometime need special space and places in which work can be done. I am therefore supportive of your campaign to raise a significant sum of money for a centre. I do wish you well and pray that through your wonderful work many will be encouraged, supported and find healing and wholeness.
Tim Thornton, Bishop of Truro.